Match Report -
Draw number 5 - but a clean sheet
By Debbie Taylor

Derby games are normally roller coaster, wild, rocky rides, full of incident and drama. This game failed to live up to that billing, as Celtic failed to score, and kept Droylsden at arms length, producing a mostly drab 0-0 affair.

One of Droylsden's only attacks came early on, when Sykes fouled Murphy on the half way line, and the ball was pumped into the box for Cameron to provide a looping header with back-pass force to Dootson.

Celtic won a couple of early corners, but they set the pattern for the whole game, being easily cleared, near-post corners. About a quarter of an hour in, Hayward slipped the ball through for debutant Calcutt. Calcutt latched onto it, beat his marker and put a cross in that Regan blocked for a corner. Whealing's corner found Calcutt, but he fluffed his lines, and Droylsden cleared.

Robinson was not doing the home defence any favours at all, though he got away with a lot, he was also penalised a lot for stupid, clumsy tackles, including scything Hayward down, thirty yards from goal with a tackle from behind that earned him a yellow card. The free kick was aimed at Parr, but Murphy got across and put it out for a throw.

Keeling lobbed a ball over the top of the defence for Eastwood to latch onto. Despite Burke's pressure, Eastwood turned to face goal, saw Phillips slightly advanced and tried to lob him from a narrow angle – he missed by a considerable margin. Hayward appears to have lost a bit of confidence in front of goal – which he shouldn't do because he is still getting to the right places, and creating the chances (relax Thierry!). An Eastwood through ball put him one-on-one with Phillips, and he scuffed his shot inches wide.

Robinson didn't help his attack either. After Smith clumsily challenged Lee, Dootson caught the lofted ball in, but Lee risked a second booking when he shoved Dootson over, giving Celtic a free kick and relieving any pressure there may have been.

Calcutt got handed a superb chance from Eastwood. Eastwood brilliantly brought down a lifted ball from Sykes – he saw Calcutt unmarked at the edge of the six-yard box and provided him with an unselfish pass that a garden gnome could have scored off. Somehow Calcutt's side foot diverted the ball wide. Moments later a defence mix-up saw Warner knock the ball back to Phillips without the power to get the ball fully into the box. Hayward ran in and got to the ball first, knocking it sideways to where Eastwood was running in. Celtic's golden boot winner had an empty net to aim at, and only an off balance keeper to beat, but his lifted lob cleared the bar.

The Celtic defence was playing very well indeed, keeping Droylsden away from Dootson for the most part. However, ex-Celt Murphy saw the defence part before him as he brought the ball from the half way line, before they could change their minds; he blasted a shot from forty yards and Dootson had to make a smart save to push the ball away.

Calcutt easily outpaced Warner before whipping in a good ball meant for Hayward. However, Robinson got there first, heading around his own post for a corner. The corner was the best of the game, Sykes got good contact and it was top corner all the way, until Phillips caught it.

With very little time left in the half, Eastwood's shot was charged down by Regan, at the expense of a corner. Wharton's corner was half cleared by Murphy, but struck Hayward on the backside and Droylsden scrambled the ball clear. The last act of the half was at the Celtic end, when Keeling conceded a corner off a Byrne cross. Sykes headed it clear easily, and the referee blew for the break.

At the start of the second half, Calcutt picked up the ball, beat three defenders, and would have beaten Robinson as well, if the latter hadn't elbowed him in the face. Celtic couldn't work anything from the free kick, but Calcutt showed some nice touches again to work some space on the wing before firing in a low cross for Eastwood and Hayward. Warner read it well, covering across for his slow to react defensive teammates, cutting the ball out for a corner, which was cleared.

Murphy dropped the ball off to Hall, who saw no route any closer to goal than thirty-five yards, so shot from there, lacking Murphy's earlier accuracy, the ball sailed high and wide.

Burke was the next to elbow Calcutt, this time drawing blood. Fortunately for Celtic the linesman was alert, because the referee missed it completely. The back-post free kick was for Eastwood until Hall curt it out for a corner, which was easily cleared. The blow to Calcutt was obviously too much and Monk was brought on his place. Monk got a chance almost immediately: Eastwood did some good work on the left, before flicking a cross into the box. Hayward nodded it down to Monk, Robinson reacted fast, stretching and kicking the ball high into the air, and Burke muscled in to head it clear.

Keeling was harshly adjudged to have fouled substitute Kilheeny thirty yards out dead centre. The free kick was superbly struck, curling around the wall and only narrowly going past Dootson's upright.

With Calcutt off, the midfield was stiffened by the introduction of Connell for Wharton. Connell's first touch was laying a ball into the path of Hayward running into the box, a confident Hayward would have shot, but instead he looked for a pass, and the chance was gone. Smith and Monk interchanged on the right wing, Monk getting into the box and shooting . . . high and wide. Hayward ran down the wing, easily outpacing Warner, with Phillips narrowing the angle, he saw Sykes coming into the box and put what would have been a perfect pass into Sykes' feet, had Phillips not read the intent, and made a very good low stop.

Robinson continued to push his luck, and pull his opposition. Hayward started to outpace him until Robinson grabbed his shoulder almost yanking Hayward off his feet. The referee gave the foul, and must have considered issuing a second yellow for the offence by the last defender. The free kick was across the face to Parr, but Morris nodded the ball out, expecting a corner, and relieved to see a goal kick.

Droylsden did make occasional half-hearted forays. Keeling conceded a corner that Burke headed wide, but by far their best effort came with only minutes left on the clock. Murphy fed the ball between the defence, and Morris obligingly ran onto it, prodding a low shot towards goal that brought out a superb save from Dootson, and a quick tidy up by the defence. Another good effort came moments later from Phillips, the keeper. An offside flag allowed him to punt the ball down field, the bounce was awkward, deceiving Dootson, forcing Celtic's number one to back peddle and push the ball over the bar. The corner was appalling, and wasted.

Having seen Robinson get away with elbows, Warner took out Monk in the exact same way knocking the smaller winger off his feet. Whealing's free kick almost won Celtic a deserved three points in the last move of the match. Hayward trapped the free kick and lobbed it over the keeper to the back post, where Keeling threw himself at the ball (landing heavily on Sykes), but his header struck the crossbar and fell to Hayward, Hayward didn't hesitate, or show any signs of a lack of confidence, when he swivelled and poked the ball towards the bottom corner. Regan threw himself across the goal line to put his body in the way, and concede a corner. The corner didn't live up to the preceding play, and went straight to Phillips.

The lack of on-target shooting was the only downside in this very competent performance. Droylsden were made to look clumsy and heavy, but Celtic were unable to produce enough goods to create anything other than a clean sheet.

Sponsors
Site Sponsor
Football Accumulators - Official Site Sponsors of Stalybridge Celtic
Site Sponsor
MG Domestic - Official Site Sponsors of Stalybridge Celtic
Main club sponsor
Works4U Official Shirt Sponsors of Stalybridge Celtic